Early Childhood Centers:

Services to Prepare Children for School Often Limited

HEHS-95-21: Published: Mar 21, 1995. Publicly Released: Apr 6, 1995.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed early childhood services for disadvantaged children, focusing on the: (1) services disadvantaged children need to prepare for school; (2) extent to which early childhood centers provide these services; and (3) reasons early childhood centers may not deliver all the needed services.

GAO found that: (1) disadvantaged children need intellectual stimulation, parental support, and adequate health care and nutrition to prepare for school; (2) early childhood centers provide all the necessary services and also promote developmental activities suitable to a child's age and individual level of development; (3) most disadvantaged children do not receive a full range of services from early childhood centers because of the limited number of centers and subsidies and narrow program missions; (4) school-sponsored, nonprofit, and for-profit childhood centers are often less likely to provide a full range of services than Head Start centers; and (5) despite Head Start's full range of services, the quality of its services has been uneven.

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